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To this must be added, the total want of every kind of positive evidence to fix the charge upon Cecil: we do not find the slightest intimation, in the examination of any person engaged in the conspiracy, that he or any other person was drawn into it by the artifices of Cecil.
Inquiry whether the Gunpowder Plot can justly be charged on the general body of the Catholics.
It remains to inquire, whether the guilt of this horrid conspiracy can be justly charged on the body of the English catholics.
Now, the smallness of the number of those, who were engaged in it, and the disapprobation expressed of it by the general body, seem to decide the question. No writer has calculated the number of catholics to have amounted, at this time, to less than one half,—and probably it greatly exceeded that proportion*,--of the whole population of England. Many catholics,-perhaps not fewer than
* "The faction of the catholics in England is great; and "able, if the kingdom were divided into three parts, to make "two of them." Strype, Ann. vol. iii. p. 313.
+ Having desired a young gentleman, who favours him with his friendship, and who is particularly qualified for the task, to investigate this fact, the writer received from him the following paper:
"A List of the PEERS Summoned to Parliament in the
"Thomas lord Ellesmere, chancellor of England.
thirty,—were, at this time, in the peerage; and catholics then sat and voted in the house of lords.
"William marquis of Winchester
gy. "Charles earl of Nottingham, high admiral, and steward of the household.
"Thomas earl of Suffolk, chamberlain of the
"Thomas earl of Arundel
Henry earl of Northumberland
"William earl of Bath.
Robert earl of Salisbury.
"Edward lord Abergavenny
qy. "George lord Audley.
"Edward lord Zouche.
"Robert lord Willoughby de Eresby.
"Thomas lord de la Warre.
"Henry lord Berkeley.
informed of the design to blow up the buildings by gunpowder. The others knew something of the general views of the conspirators; but the worst part was certainly concealed from them. James himself, who appears to have formed juster notions of the nature and extent of the conspiracy, than his contemporaries, proclaimed his conviction of the innocence of the general body of the catholics. In one of his publications, he treats it with great "contempt." He calls it "a tragedy to the traitors; but, a tragicomedy to the king, and to all his new subjects*." It is also observable, that, of the nine persons, who are supposed to have been privy to the gunpowder part of the plot, some had long outwardly conformed to the protestant religion,—and were
"Thomas lord Arundell of Wardour
"William lord Cavendish.
"The five Howards, peers, are,-Charles earl of Notting"ham, Thomas earl of Suffolk, Thomas earl of Arundell, "Thomas viscount Bindon, and William lord Howard of "Effingham;—of these, Thomas earl of Arundell was cer"tainly a catholic until the year 1614; he probably never was any "thing else but a catholic. It is probable the earl of Notting"ham was a catholic, as well as some of the other Howards.
"It is believed that the treasurer Dorset was catholic; many of the Sackvilles were; and most of his daughters "intermarried with acknowledged catholic families.
"The several peers to whose names the writer has affixed "a qy, are all, in his opinion, doubtful; most probably catho"lics, particularly lord Audley and lord Euers.
"Gilbert earl of Shrewsbury, is called catholic by the writer; "it is doubtful what he was.”
* King James's Works: Discourse of the Powder Treason, p. 223.
considered, by the catholics themselves, to have renounced their communion. Lord Monteagle was the first person, out of this band, to whom any intelligence of the plot was conveyed; his lordship was a zealous catholic; and we have seen that, in the instant in which it reached him, he carried the information of it to the secretary of state. The persons most instrumental in detecting the conspirators were, Cecil, earl of Salisbury, the secretary of state, the earl of Suffolk, the earl of Worcester, and the earl of Northampton. The two last were catholics. In the examinations and trial of father Garnett, the earl of Northampton took a very active part. With one exception, all the conspirators acknowledged their guilt; and expressed their repentance of it.-Fawkes, at first, justified it; but afterwards acknowledged its criminality ; declared his repentance of it, and exhorted all catholics never
in any such bloody enterprise, “it being “ a method never allowed, nor prospered, of God *,"
Sir Everard Digby, almost the only gentleman of character, who was implicated in the conspiracy, but who had no knowledge of the worst part of the infernal design, confessed, on his trial, that " he had been generally informed of there being
* « The lords of the council requested that a priest might “be appointed to attend and assure Vaux, that he was bound “ to utter what he knew of the conspiracy; and master Tho
mas Wright, a learned priest, did thereupon come to the “ council, and offer his best service therein ; and had a warrant “ to that purpose, subscribed with twelve privy counsellors' o hands." The Advocate of Conscience and Liberty, or an Advocate for Toleration rightly stated, 1673, p. 227.